By Qassim Abdul-zahra, The Associated Press on February 7, 2024.
BAGHDAD (AP) – A drone strike hit a car in the Iraqi capital Wednesday night, killing three members of the powerful Kataib Hezbollah militia including a high-ranking commander, militia officials said.
The strike occurred on a main thoroughfare in the Mashtal neighborhood in eastern Baghdad. A crowd gathered as emergency response teams picked through the wreckage.
Two officials with Iranian-backed militias in Iraq said that one of those killed was Wissam Mohammed “Abu Bakr” al – Saadi, the commander in charge of Kataib Hezbollah’s operations in Syria. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak to journalists.
The strike came days after the U.S. military launched an air assault on dozens of sites in Iraq and Syria used by Iranian-backed militias and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in retaliation for a drone strike that killed three U.S. troops in Jordan in late January.
The U.S. has blamed the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, a broad coalition of Iran-backed militias, for the attack in Jordan, and officials have said they suspect Kataib Hezbollah in particular of leading it.
There was no immediate comment from U.S. officials on Wednesday’s strike.
The Islamic Resistance in Iraq has regularly claimed strikes on bases housing U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria against the backdrop of the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, saying that they are in retaliation for Washington’s support of Israel.
Kataib Hezbollah had said in a statement that it was suspending attacks on American troops to avoid “embarrassing the Iraqi government” after the strike in Jordan, but others have vowed to continue fighting.
Also Wednesday, the media office of the Houthi rebels in Yemen reported two airstrikes in Ras Issa area in Salif district in Hodeida province.
Associated Press journalist Ali Jabar contributed to this report.